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Two golds for Great Britain after stunning second day at the track

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Published: 3 August 2012
Report: Lionel Birnie
Image: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Preview: Olympic Track Cycling - Sprint | Preview: Olympic Track Cycling - Endurance | Track cycling at London 2012 | Track cycling team biographies |


Momentum can be a powerful thing in sport and, just as they showed in Beijing four years ago, Britain’s cyclists proved that once the ball is rolling it takes some stopping. On the second day in the velodrome, there were two gold medals and another couple of world records as they raised the roof.

The men’s team pursuit squad of Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh broke their own world record – set in qualifying on Thursday – as they swept Australia aside in the gold medal final.

The women’s team – Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell – will be confident of following in their wheel tracks on Saturday evening after they dominated the qualifying round of their competition. Not only did they also set a new world record, they were almost four seconds faster than their closest challengers, the United States.

Victoria Pendleton rounded off a flawless session with a barnstorming victory in the women’s Keirin final, adding the gold medal to the sprint title she won in Beijing and going some way to compensating for the disappointment of disqualification in the team sprint on Thursday.

Three of the four track gold medals awarded so far have gone to the host nation and there is every chance they could be as dominant in the velodrome as they were four years ago. Of course there are more unpredictable events to come, particularly the two omnium competitions, but the form of the women’s team pursuit squad suggests that it would take an unforeseen disaster or a sudden turnaround in fortunes for them to be denied. With gold one medal secure, the pressure is off Pendleton, to an extent, when she begins her sprint campaign. And Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny have already demonstrated they are fast enough to be considered among the favourites for the Keirin and sprint.

This was Pendleton’s first major Keirin title since the 2007 World Championships in Palma de Majorca. Although she has won the occasional World Cup Keirin, the discipline had appeared to become her Achilles heel. However, as she demonstrated with her time in the team sprint qualifying round, she has arrived at the Games in blistering form, which enabled her to take up the racing in each of the heats and the final. Instead of having to shadow box or choose her moment with precise care, she had the strength and confidence to take the races on from a long way out.

She won her first round heat against Australia’s Anna Meares as the two rivals pulled clear of the rest on the last lap. In round two, Pendleton was equally assertive, hitting the front early and never looking in danger. Clara Sanchez of France and Shuang Guo of China followed her through to the final, where they were joined by Meares, Monique Sullivan of Canada and Wai Sze Lee of Hong Kong from the other heat.

In the final, Pendleton took her position in the middle of the line of riders behind the Derny and allowed a little gap to open so she could take a good run at those in front of her. Meares tried to beat Pendleton at her own game but the British rider had a more than adequate response, powering past everyone and seizing her moment. Guo and Lee tried to hit back but Pendleton had left enough in reserve for the finishing straight.

By the time they took to the track, the Great Britain men’s team pursuit squad knew that victory over Denmark in the first round would guarantee a gold medal showdown with Australia, who had beaten New Zealand with a time of 3:54.317.

Having broken their own world record in qualifying, the British team would probably not have been alarmed by the time the Australians recorded, particularly when they did another 3:52 ride to brush aside the Danes.

Sticking with the same quartet throughout the competition, there might have been a concern over how they would recover in time for the final but Britain opted not to bring in Andy Tennant.

The opening kilometre of the final was very close. There was just a tenth of a second between the teams, with Britain shading it. At the halfway mark the gap was three-tenths of a second and from then the elastic stretched and finally snapped. With Clancy and Burke demonstrating incredible strength with a number of long turns, Britain applied the pressure. Kennaugh did his final turn to help put the result beyond doubt before peeling off and leaving the other three to see it home.

When they crossed the line the clock read 3:51.659 – the fastest men’s team pursuit of all-time and approaching two seconds faster than the time they set when they won the Olympic title in Beijing. There has never been a more technically proficient demonstration of team pursuit riding.

Perhaps they had been inspired by the women? Trott, King and Rowsell blew away the opposition in what was a slightly sluggish qualification round.

The United States team of Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Jennie Reed set a new national record to top the standings and then watched as Australia and New Zealand failed to better it.

The British hit the track and set off on world record pace sustaining it all the way to the line. They stopped the clock on 3:15.699, almost four seconds faster than the United States. Britain face Canada in round one on Saturday and the Canadians know they will have to dramtically up their game to be competitive. The other semi-final between the United States and Australia could be extremely close but all the signs so far are that another gold medal is heading Britain’s way.

Results

Women's Team Pursuit

Qualification

1 Great Britain 3:15.669 Q WR
2 United States 3:19.406 Q
3 Australia 3:19.719 Q
4 Canada 3:19.816 Q
5 New Zealand 3:20.421 Q
6 Netherlands 3:21.602 Q
7 Germany 3:22.058 Q
8 Belarus 3:22.850 Q
9 Ukraine 03:25.2
10 China 03:26.0

Men's Team Pursuit

Finals

1    Great Britain
2    Australia
3    New Zealand
4    Russia
5    Denmark
6    Spain
7    Netherlands
8    Colombia
9    Belgium
10  Korea

1st Round

Heat 1
Spain 3:59.520
Colombia 4:05.485

Heat 2
Russia 3:57.237
Netherlands 4:04.029

Heat 3
Australia 3:54.317
New Zealand 3:56.442

Heat 4
Great Britain 3:52.743
Denmark 3:57.396

Progressing to gold medal final
Great Britain
Australia

Progressing to bronze medal final
Russia
New Zealand

Qualification rule: The winners of the two heats between the top four teams advance to the finals; the remaining six teams are ranked according to their times from the first round, with the best two teams competing for bronze.

Women's Keirin

Finals

Main Final
1 PENDLETON Victoria
2 GUO Shuang
3 LEE Wai Sze
4 SANCHEZ Clara
5 MEARES Anna
6 SULLIVAN Monique

Final 7th-12th
7 KRUPECKAITE Simona
8 GNIDENKO Ekaterina
9 LARREAL Daniela Grelui
10 VOGEL Kristina
11 HANSEN Natasha
12 KANIS Willy

 

2nd Round

Heat 1
1 MEARES Anna Q
2 SULLIVAN Monique Q
3 LEE Wai Sze Q
4 KANIS Willy -
5 KRUPECKAITE Simona -
6 VOGEL Kristina -

Heat 2
1 PENDLETON Victoria Q
2 SANCHEZ Clara Q
3 GUO Shuang Q
4 GNIDENKO Ekaterina -
5 HANSEN Natasha -
6 LARREAL Daniela Grelui -

1st Round Repechage

Heat 1
1 LEE Wai Sze Q
2 KANIS Willy Q
3 SULLIVAN Monique Q
4 GUERRA RODRIGUEZ Lisandra -
5 PANARINA Olga -
6 GAVIRIA RENDON Juliana -

Heat 2
1 SANCHEZ Clara Q
2 HANSEN Natasha Q
3 LARREAL Daniela Grelui Q
4 SHULIKA Lyubov -
5 MUSTAPA Fatehah -
6 LEE Hyejin -

1st Round

Heat 1
1 VOGEL Kristina Q
2 GNIDENKO Ekaterina Q
3 GUERRA RODRIGUEZ Lisandra R
4 GAVIRIA RENDON Juliana R
5 SULLIVAN Monique R
6 SANCHEZ Clara R

Heat 2
1 PENDLETON Victoria Q
2 MEARES Anna Q
3 HANSEN Natasha R
4 MUSTAPA Fatehah R
5 SHULIKA Lyubov R
6 KANIS Willy R

Heat 3
1 GUO Shuang Q
2 KRUPECKAITE Simona Q
3 LARREAL Daniela Grelui R
4 LEE Wai Sze R
5 LEE Hyejin R
6 PANARINA Olga R

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